Artistic Director - Job Description

40 years SFSF logo

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival (“SF Shakes”) seeks an Artistic Director to provide artistic vision, strategic direction, and passion, to build on SF Shakes’ 40-year commitment to changing lives through accessible Shakespeare-based performances, education, and engagement. This is an excellent opportunity for a hands-on, creative, and collaborative leader who is looking for an artistic home and connection with Bay Area communities.

Primary Responsibilities

The Artistic Director for SF Shakes provides artistic leadership by supervising the Artistic, Education, and Production teams; participating on the Engagement team; and contributing to Marketing, Communications, Board development, and Fundraising.

  • Realize the artistic vision of each year’s Free Shakespeare in the Park and Shakespeare on Tour productions, both by participating as an artist and by providing guidance for the company. Produce each production, allocating resources within a production budget and working with the full-time Production Manager and seasonal staff to hire and supervise artistic and production staff.
  • Conduct season planning, in collaboration with the Resident Artist company. Research and review possible titles for Free Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare on Tour, and staged readings; consider how the plays' themes resonate with the present moment, intersect across programs, and relate to past and future season selections; explore relationships with playwrights and other collaborators.
  • Provide educational expertise by leading trainings and workshops, contributing to curriculum development, and considering artistic choices from an educational perspective.
  • Supervise educational programming, including in-school residencies, Bay Area Shakespeare Camps, and Shakespeare on Tour. Collaborate with the Education Workgroup to plan and execute educational programs and evaluate and evolve their current business models and work practices.
  • Co-develop community-based engagement programming through relational partnerships that seek to foster healthy communities. An example of engagement programming is Shakespeare for All Neighbors, which provides storytelling workshops in partnership with organizations serving our unhoused neighbors.
  • Recruit, hire, onboard, and retain seasonal staff, and supervise year-round education and production staff members. The Artistic Director is supported in this by the active collaboration of the Production Manager and members of the Education Workgroup.
  • Provide input to marketing and fundraising materials, and develop organizational voice throughout all communications.
  • Advance company culture, accountability, and anti-racism throughout the organization, setting norms and policies, and developing organizational structures that nurture and sustain these norms and policies.
  • Alongside fellow organizational leaders, represent SF Shakes with the Bay Area and wider artistic community, internal and external stakeholders, and the general public.

Qualifications & Qualities

The ideal candidate will offer most or all of these characteristics, traits, and competencies:
  • Experience as an artist, including with a professional equity company and with Shakespeare; though performance director is most common, designers and those with other types of artistic experience also meet this qualification;
  • Teaching artist experience in an educational setting, such as a theater’s education department, K-12 school or college;
  • Experience in an outdoor performance setting;
  • Experience with and desire to work in diverse intersectional spaces with colleagues of different ages, abilities, experience levels, and racial, ethnic, and gender identities;
  • Commitment to community engagement, audience development, and accessibility;
  • Creativity, passion, and integrity;
  • Leadership and the ability to develop leadership capacity in others;
  • Experience with and interest in working in and developing shared leadership structures;
  • Project management;
  • Supervision and mentorship;
  • Written and oral communication skills;
  • Fiscal and administrative experience, including budgeting, scenario planning, and contracting.

Reporting Relationship

The Artistic Director currently reports to the Executive Director, who reports to the Board of Directors. We are actively exploring alternatives to this reporting structure, and the new Artistic Director will be a key participant in an upcoming strategic planning process that will examine, among other topics, the staffing structure of the organization; this strategic planning process is currently scheduled to commence in November 2022.


Candidates should share our values, and have demonstrated ability to co-lead the organization’s continuing journey toward becoming an evermore socially-just organization (read recent antiracism and accountability updates here.)

Compensation and Benefits

This is a full-time position, with an annual salary of $82,000 - $92,000. Benefits include full individual health insurance (no monthly employee contribution) and two weeks vacation; additionally the office is closed for one week at the end of the calendar year.

SF Shakes continues to work towards a more equitable pay scale, and is challenged by the high cost of living in the Bay Area. This annual salary is 2.5x the rate of compensation of the lowest-paid worker at SF Shakes. We anticipate further developing our salary structure in our upcoming strategic planning.

Conditions of Work

This position requires local residence, and combines remote and onsite work.

SF Shakes staff began working remotely in March 2020. SF Shakes’ shop space in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco provides some office and meeting space for in-person work. Program support requires in-person work in schools, theaters and other community centers, and outdoor park settings.

SF Shakes is a fully-vaccinated company.

As with most small and mid-sized organizations, SF Shakes employees often “pinch hit,” and the Artistic and Executive Directors are both called upon to fill operational gaps. The work is fast-paced, and our commitment to well-being, rest, and relaxation is both tested and respected. We embrace flexible schedules within operational constraints, and strive for a culture of communication, consultation, and adaptability that supports everyone’s ability to succeed.

We are open to hearing from candidates who are interested in job-sharing or other part-time solutions, and to exploring the Artistic Director’s practice of their art elsewhere on a limited basis.

The current Artistic Director will remain with the organization through EOY 2022. It is our hope to hire the new Artistic Director in October, leaving a two- to three-month overlap to support a smooth transition.

Applications and Inquiries

Interested candidates are invited to apply by submitting a resume and cover letter through our google form. The position is open until filled; priority will be given to candidates who apply by August 8, 2022. Please email with any questions.

SF Shakes’ services and employment are provided in a nondiscriminatory manner, without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, ancestry, religious creed, ability or age. BIPOC candidates, candidates who have historically been excluded from artistic leadership, and those who have been impacted by systemic bias, are encouraged to apply.


The Festival is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a $1.2 mil annual budget whose mission is to make the words and themes of Shakespeare accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, financial status or level of education.
We believe that Shakespeare experienced in a communal setting - whether it be outdoors, in a classroom or in a theater - elates the soul, inspires the mind and unifies those who sit beside each other. For the majority of our audiences, we are the first point of contact with Shakespeare and the performing arts. Our programming represents the plays in their finest light, demonstrates their relevance to today's society, and inspires our students and audiences to seek out additional theatrical experiences. By lowering practical and perceptual barriers, the Festival encourages broad participation in the arts and makes these artistic activities an active part of community life.
The Festival plays a vital role in the Bay Area arts community, serving as a catalyst for audience development by reaching thousands of people who otherwise do not attend live theater or may have never experienced it at all. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is dedicated to arts education, using its programs to foster a life-long appreciation of learning and the arts.